The plant will utilize a process known as anaerobic digestion for breaking down the biodegradable material. The plant will also capture odor emissions, Ferguson said, which had been a concern initially of prison officials at the Eastern Correction Institution and local residents. The state prison currently houses more than 3,000 inmates.
The impetus for the project, Ferguson said, came more than a decade ago when a Pfiesteria outbreak, blamed at least partially on nutrient issues related to the poultry industry, led to a large fish kill in the Chesapeake Bay. Eventually, the state began soliciting ideas from around the world for solutions to the chicken manure problem, settling on the proposal from ECOCORP, which has done similar work in Germany and Holland.